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June 5, 2006

Letter to the Editor: Viaduct visionaries avoid messy details

I take exception to WSDOT officials pronouncements that their cost analysis process is up to the task. They have provided NO documented proof of past projects where their “new math” and estimating methods have accurately gauged the costs of a mega project such as being proposed by the “visionaries.” The nationwide historical record is that mega projects are always overbudget.

Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis is correct that estimating impacts to businesses would be “almost” impossible. I realize that going about having “visions” is preferable to dealing with the harsh realities of life, but that issue, the impact on area businesses, still has to be addressed.

If I were the owner of a local business that depended on being accessible I would be in panic mode right now. If the tunnel option is chosen that whole area will look like a war zone, and many businesses will suffer loss.

The WSDOT statement and thinking regarding the surface boulevard option and I-5 gridlock should also include the fact that the approximately 11 years it is estimated to take for the tunnel option to be completed would by itself result in I-5 gridlock. And then what? After construction is completed, the ribbon is cut and the traffic flows smoothly? Nonsense, this region has already passed the threshold point, and no amount of new roads will overcome the current volume of traffic.

The Route 99 corridor is critical. Bruce Agnew is right, and it should be maintained to some degree. Also, any replacement option that is adopted should have provisions to keep at least some capacity open during construction. The surface boulevard advocates are 100 percent correct that planning in advance is critical to any success, both for the actual replacement and in maintaining current business and an open corridor.

My greatest fear, based on past experience, is that the the self-proclaimed visionaries will spend their time having visions, and not pay attention to the messy details of the real world.

Arthur Rack

Try a First Avenue tunnel

Please write an article raising the option of building a tunnel under First Avenue, from Royal Brougham to Bell Street and north on Bell to Fifth. It is not necessary to tear down the viaduct until the First Avenue tunnel is done. We do not have to settle with an extended period of less traffic capacity.

Lessen the impact by only doing one or two blocks at a time. Do not dig up the entire length all at once. Hire two contractors, have them start at opposite ends, and race toward the middle.

No way are we going to be able to dig up miles of the waterfront and not find Indian artifacts that will shut down the project.

FYI, I work for a highway construction company and have done 20 years of projects all over the western United States.

Patrick Sibborn

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